Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The fate of an Iraqi Jew

In my recent post on the Jews of Yemen and Aden, I suggested I might do a series of posts on Jews from Arab and Muslim lands. Here is something on the fate of a prominent Iraqi Jew:
Shafiq Ades paid with his life for being a wealthy Jew. Ades was an assimilated Jew, completely disinterested in Zionism and well connected personally to the authorities in his hometown of Basra. He was a major contributor to the Palestinian cause and, as previously mentioned, was the wealthiest member of the Baghdad Chamber of Commerce on the eve of World War II. Ades's main line of business was representing the U.S. car manufacturer Ford. He was arrested in 1948, accused of buying tanks, trucks and other equipment from the British military stationed in Basra, and sending it to Israel via Italy. The prosecution failed to prove Ades's guilt, but the court ignored this fact and the fact that Ades's share in military surplus transactions was only 10%. His business associates were all Muslim, including prominent public figures, but their names were never mentioned during the trial. No witnesses were called to testify.

Within three days after the trial commenced, a month after his arrest, Ades was convicted, sentenced to be hanged, and fined 5 million dinar. State Regent Abd al-Ila'a--Ades's frequent houseguest--approved the sentencing. Ades was hanged publicly in Basra on September 23 and his corpse left on the gallows for five hours. For the Muslims, it was a day of celebration. For the Jews it was a severe shock; they felt that if this could happen to a man like Ades, clearly there was no hope of ever assimilating into Iraqi society, and no Jew could ever feel safe.
(Locked Doors: The Seizure of Jewish Property in the Arab World by Itamar Levin, trans. Rachel Neiman, Praeger, 2001, p. 14) More here.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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